Is Wood Filler Stainable? — Before and After Results

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We all know that wood fillers are excellent materials for hiding cracks, holes, or gaps. The only problem is they don’t always blend in with the surface. Given this dilemma, it’s not unnatural to ask whether wood filler is stainable or not.  

In this article, I’ll answer this commonly asked question and share tips to help you secure that perfect finish you’re aiming for!

Can You Apply Stain on Wood Filler?

If you scan through today’s market, finding stainable wood fillers is not as hard as before. Most manufacturers indicate this feature in the product labels to help buyers identify which are stainable and which are not. 

These products are from porous materials, like sawdust. Because of this, they won’t have difficulty taking in stains and other color pigments. 

applying wood filler

Besides buying, you can also consider the DIY route. Mix sawdust with glue or other binding substances to make a stainable wood filler

Which Stain and Wood Filler to Use for the Best Results

Since water-based stains are thinner than other alternatives, they can take filling compounds better. 

While product labels can be a useful guide in determining the right wood filler for staining, I’d still suggest opting for fillers that closely mimic natural wood pores.

Since they’re water and oil-absorbent, wood fillers can draw in penetrating stains without any problem. Their natural wood colors also allow the filler to blend with the surrounding wooden surface. 

Light or Dark Stains?

Between light and dark stains, using the latter makes more sense. You may not know, but darker alternatives cover the wood filler better than lighter options. It can also hide the wood grain, so it doesn’t matter what shade the lumber has. 

testing wood stain on rubberwood

If you want the filler to be unnoticeable, your best shot is painting over the stain with a darker color. Here’s how to stain wood darker.  

However, deciding between dark and light stains ultimately depends on the surface size you’re repairing. Although it’s advisable to choose darker products for extensive repairs, lighter ones also work for smaller gaps or cracks as long as it resembles the wood’s natural color. 

Staining Tips for a Seamless Finish

Tip #1: Test the Stain and Filler on a Scrap Piece

You wouldn’t want surprises when doing this task, so I suggest you conduct a test run on a scrap wood piece first. You can apply the filler on its surface to see if it will yield your desired result. This practice has saved me countless hours and resources over the years.

Tip #2: Buy a Wood-Colored Filler Close to Your Wood’s Pigment

Staining is only necessary if the wood filler doesn’t match the material’s color pigment. So if you want to save yourself a step and extra expenses, buying filling compounds that resemble the wood you’re handling is the wisest step.

applying Elmer's Probond P9890 Interior Wood Filler

Tip #3: Customize Your Own Wood Filler

As I mentioned, wood fillers are easy to DIY. You can make them with typical materials at the workshop, like sawdust and a strong wood glue. Mix them well on a paper plate or container to build the filler’s consistency. 

Tip #4: Tint Your Wood Filler

To achieve a seamless match between the filler and the wood’s grain, another option I’d recommend is incorporating color into the solution.

However, it is crucial to verify the compatibility of the coloring pigment with the solvent substance in your filler to ensure proper blending. Otherwise, the pigment and filler may not mix effectively.

Tip #5: Apply Wood Conditioner

Applying wood conditioner is recommended, especially if you want to produce a lighter finish. Although you can always choose a light stain over dark ones, don’t forget that these products are meant to yield darker finishes. 

wood conditioner

Tip #6: Choose the Right Stain Type

Staining products include labels indicating whether they suit outdoor or indoor use. Exterior stains can withstand elements that interior alternatives cannot, like moisture, UV rays [1], and harsh weather conditions. 


Why does wood filler not stain?

Wood filler does not stain because it’s not a stainable variant. If you can’t replace it with a stainable product, you can sand its surface to increase its adhesion.

Can you stain plastic wood filler?

Yes, you can stain plastic wood filler because seventy percent of it includes porous materials. Since it has wood substances, it can absorb stains with no problem. 


Wood filler is stainable, but not all options in the market are. Therefore, checking the product labels before using them for repairs is crucial. There’s also no shame in taking the DIY route if you’re repairing a small surface. 

Now, if you’ve already applied an unstainable filling compound, I recommend sanding it down to improve its adhesion significantly.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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